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Self Indulgent, but I RARELY do this

I don't talk about my family a lot. That is, I don't talk about the REALLY personal stuff. Well, just the mom/kid stuff, but I'm not a whiner. (Um, this is my attempt at a disclaimer.) Some of you may know that I have a younger sister (16) that is autistic. A non-verbal autistic, meaning she doesn't communicate how we do. And she is going to be in a group home, or facility, or in my house with aides for the rest of her life. That is, once my parents are gone. She ONLY communicates with my step-mom. So, to say my step-mom is important is an understatement. My brother has Aspergers Syndrome and he'll need to live close to me for the rest of his life, as well. He just isn't capable of being on his own. The kind of person that gets taken for a ride, if you catch my drift. Sweet as pie, and incapable of getting how awful people can be.

In my mind, I'm still that young girl in college. Carefree. Years and years before I have to worry about my parents' health. I've forced them to get a notiarized piece of paper giving me power of attorney and named the custodian of my sister, in case. I've always known this will fall on my shoulders, and I'm fine with it. It's my family. But I have years and years before I have to worry about it.

So Friday my step-mom had a shadow. I almost threw up when they said those words to me. (Oh my god, Joyce is my dream mom. A shadow.) In her lung. Growing. With friends. Surgery scheduled within 24 hours. Mobilization. Scary words like "Stage 2, possibly 3." For the past few days I've been on the phone with insurance companies, cancer centers (MD Anderson is the place to be, no matter where in the country you are) and now I can toss around words like sarcoma and squamous and not be working on a Bio paper.

And while my mom (let's face it. I accepted the shit of a human my biological mother is and clung to the woman who taught me how to be a wife, a creator of things, how to be patient and thoughtful - she's my mom) is in the hospital undergoing test, and on and on... There's the little matter of my sister. Unable to talk to us, unable to understand why her world isn't there. You don't touch her. You don't hug her. She screams and paces. She wants her mom. She'll let me talk to her, get her things, but she paces, paces, rocks, tugs her ears, repetitively looks out the window and taps on the glass.

And my brother. Knows there are words like "cancer" "sick" "hospital" but they have no concrete meaning. So he's picking up on our stress, our worry and it's making him crazy, because he doesn't understand. He just wants his mom, the one person on this earth who looks at him like there isn't a thing in the world wrong, his One True Champion, the one who gets his strange jokes, who sees the talent hidden in his odd doodles... And she isn't there. And we've been talking in hushed tones. It's hard for me to be close to him. 16 years between our ages - I was gone for most of his life in college, marriage... The one thing we have together in common is Buffy. I thought he could identify with Willow and Xander. I was right. He'd tell you he was most like Wesley, but that's because he hasn't watched Angel yet.

And I'm prepared to watch The Body with him. If, you know... I need something to help explain.

And I've been on the phone with my sisters. I love them, but god damn. (This is locked from them.) They do not like my step-mom. Still harboring old anger (instilled by my mother and being "replaced" by a lesser woman, in her eyes) and calling my dad and s-mom hypochondriacs, I bet this is just for attention, it's nothing, you watch. And... I just start putting the phone down and walk away.

This morning was the surgery. Right lung to be taken out. Gonna see how bad it is once we "crack her open." Surgeons aren't known for their bedside manner. My dad, who I learned how to be a dork from, is alternating between extreme bouts of anger, and cracking stupid jokes and then making with the lightness. Defense mechanisms, I know. And I try to tell him it's okay to stay angry. That he can bitch to me about stupid insurance, and her stupid parents that smoked in the house and gave her cancer. (Her mother died of lung cancer. Stop smoking, for the love of Stoney.) But he smiles and says it's fine, it's fine, and I can see him chewing the inside of his mouth into pulp.

Got the news from the doctor that they got all of the tumors, and the best part is they are benign, so no chance of them breaking off and having an evil party in her brain, or something. Apparently there was a lot of necrotic tissue (dead) in her lungs, so they had to remove that. So basically, her lung looks like swiss cheese. Bodies are weird. I kinda want to see it. Like it will make it real if I look at the pink lung, see the shiny metal pan with the flicked dead gunk they cut out, see the monitors and their beeping/swooshing. Waiting rooms suck. Phony pictures, fake furniture, wonky plants, non-soothing pastels that make me think of the elderly and death, or worse yet, primary colors that make me think of pediatrician offices and snotty nosed kids. So basically, nothing to make me think of health or vibrance. So you let your mond wander, because you can't get it to focus on anything except the weirdness of the decor, then you feel guilty for redecorating in your mind and not focusing on What. Is. Important. OMG.

So. She'll come home on Friday. She'll need to recoup for a few weeks, as her lungs will be filled with fluid, body weakened from anesthesia, and a bunch of her lungs are festering in a medical waste bin. But. My aunt MaryAnn comes Thursday. She of the 35 years ER nursing experience. She of the level head, the wry humor, and the sleeve rolling. She of the delicious baking. And my dad laughed today. Haven't heard that in what seems like forever. And that makes it okay, yeah? If my dad can have a real laugh, and not his "my client made a lame joke, ha ha ha" laugh, then she'll be fine? The kids are worried, but giddy because Mom is coming home. And MaryAnn is the best, so they are happy she'll be there. She's a hugger and cookie pusher, so what's not to love?

And somehow, during all of this, I friggin' feel like an honest-to-god adult. And I don't like it. And I can't stress it enough: STOP FUCKING SMOKING. I love you. You know who you are. And lung cancer hurts. And can spread to your brain or lymph, and you are FUCKED. But most importantly? IT'S PREVENTABLE. [/soap box]

I yell because I love. And am giddy. And really, really tired. But mostly relieved. And I really, really love Kate.

[ETA for Clarity] For the record: my step-mom is not a smoker. Never was. But she grew up in a house of smokers. 30% of people who develop lung cancer are people who never smoked. But lived with people who did. Have I mentioned that I love you guys? And that cancer sucks? And I don't want anyone to die? Like, ever? Except for mean, bitchy people. They can die. But in their sleep or something. Lung cancer sucks. [/PSA]

I cannot wait until StoneyWars. I need to cut loose and hug you guys HARD.


( 103 comments — Leave a comment )
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May. 24th, 2005 10:48 am (UTC)
**hugs you tight**

Jaysus, girl, that is a ton of things to go through -- even though it sounds like the surgery will be taxing, I'm glad that things are optimistic, that there is a treatment, that your s-mom will be home soon, and that your dad laughed today. Not sure exactly what it would be, but if I can do anything for you, let me know? That includes talking and chatting or doing dorky dances or whatever. **hugs**
May. 24th, 2005 10:54 am (UTC)
Mmm. Dorky dances. WOOT!

Surgery is done and over with at this point, and now that I know Nurse!Aunt is coming (and bringing her rolling pin, metaphorically speaking) I feel a TREMENDOUS sense of relief.

I LOVE MY FLIST. There is a tremendous amount of Southern Guilt in me for even mentioning this stuff. I'm of the light and fun, you know? Tough as nails, I'm tough as nails. *chants*

*pinches your bum, stuffs treats in your mouth*
May. 24th, 2005 10:51 am (UTC)
::holds you tightly::
I can only imagine what you have been going through. I'm glad your mom is coming home from the hospital.
I'm sending all kinds of snazzy healing vibes to you.
May. 24th, 2005 10:55 am (UTC)
*snatches them like a pebble from your hand*

I feel forty pounds lighter after the doctor came out with the good news. I think if Buffy didn't have superpowers, she still would have crushed the doctor with her "hooray!" hug. That's how I feel right now.

*kisses you all over until you blush*
May. 24th, 2005 10:54 am (UTC)
Being an grown-up is hard.
I hope you have a long reprieve from the prospect.
May. 24th, 2005 10:56 am (UTC)
I am so glad we met. Heh heh. No shit. Kid for EVAH!
... - trepkos - May. 24th, 2005 11:07 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 24th, 2005 10:54 am (UTC)

Wow. You are strong. Wowzers. I hadn't heard about your family before. They sound really awesome, smart, strong - like you. I wish I had something more insightful to say, as I often do when I read your gut-spilling posts. You are fabulous and amazing.

Revenge of the Sith was great. I cried through like half of it.
May. 24th, 2005 10:58 am (UTC)
Dude, I am packing the tissues, because I am going to BAWL. Star Wars is such a huge part of who I am. I believed for a VERY long time that Leia was my long lost sister, that I could somehow make myself "be" in that world...

Ah, the escapism started at such an early age...

I have a pretty awesome family. Well, I have some terrible family, too, but they just give me great stories to tell over a beer. Ha!

*lets self be hugged, cops a feel*
May. 24th, 2005 10:55 am (UTC)
*hugs you tightly*

Oh, honey. I am so glad your mom (and yes, she is your mom; my biomom made Caleb look like a fun and playful guy, and believe me, the mom who I live with now is my mother, full stop) is going to be okay. So so glad.
May. 24th, 2005 10:59 am (UTC)
See, *you* know. She's my mom. My Joyce. I love her so much.

She's going to be tender and owie, but she's going to be HERE!!!!

*twirls you and kisses you*
May. 24th, 2005 11:07 am (UTC)
::hugs you tight::

You know you can do it, but I'm glad your aunt is coming so you won't have to do it alone. If there's anything I can do to help, please let me know.

Please don't feel guilty for sharing this with us; in my not-so-humble opinion, it's one of the best things about LJ. Southerners hardly have a monopoly on guilt, dontcha know; I was raised in a stiff-upper-lip New England WASP family but have learned that holding it all in is unhealthy on more than one level.

When my father died last summer under very difficult circumstances (let's just say there may be a malpractice suit), I'm glad I decided to post about it. The emotional support stunned me, and it really helped get me through.

-- PL, smoke-free since Nov. 1998
May. 24th, 2005 11:58 am (UTC)
OMG, I want to buy you a puppy. Or possibly chocolate. Whichever. Your signature made me grin so HARD!!

I just... I'm the one that helps everyone else, you know? I'm very uncomfortable getting things. I'd rather give. Which goes along with the over-share. Make sense? Sure it does. *pokes you*

I think I may completely lose it when my father passes. *ptooey, ptooey* We don't speak of that happening.

*hugs you back, and thanks you*
(Deleted comment)
May. 24th, 2005 11:59 am (UTC)
Oh, man, the only way today could be better was if Vincent Kartheiser knocked on my door with a new plant for my garden, chips and salsa, and a million bucks.

Damn. Now I'm greedy.

*hugs you back, and kisses your cheek*
May. 24th, 2005 11:09 am (UTC)
Wow. You are one amazing lady.

I'm glad that it turned out to be a benign shadow and I hope she feels better soon.

May. 24th, 2005 12:00 pm (UTC)
BENIGN SHADOW!! Quite possibly two of the greatest words in the English language.

*hugs you, too*
May. 24th, 2005 11:10 am (UTC)
((((Hugs))))What a lot to be going through. My best wishes for your mom's speedy and full recovery.

I lost my mother to lung cancer. She smoked from 14 to 43, but quit when I asked her to for my 18th birthday present. I guess it bought her 18 more years because she didn't get diagnosed with lung cancer until just before she turned 61. But, I must reiterate, her diagnosis was NOTHING like your mom's. When they found my mother's, it was everywhere. It was in her spinal cord, her rib cage, her breast bone, her thigh, her hip, her clavicle, and her brain. They just gave her oxycontin for pain and sent her home.

Stoney's right. Please please stop smoking. And if you don't smoke, please don't start. Please.

Stoney, your mom sounds wonderful and I think you, your father, your brother and sister are so fortunate to have such a fabulous woman to love and be loved by. (((hugs))))
May. 24th, 2005 12:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, Katie, you rock. I'm so glad you asked your mom for that. My mom didn't smoke. Never, ever. But her parents did. In the house, in the car... Not caring she had athsma... Second hand smoke: the gift that keeps on giving.

We were afraid that after they opened her up today, they would just close up shop and ask: What have you always wanted to do in your life? Get started.

She is the most awesome woman, so selfless and giving, so creative and talented... I feel pretty joyous today.
... - kaydee23 - May. 24th, 2005 01:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 24th, 2005 11:11 am (UTC)
And Stoney, you are a wonderful lady too. What a great sister and daughter you are. You are really something!
May. 24th, 2005 11:12 am (UTC)
::hugs:: I'm so happy she came through it okay.

You are so amazingly strong, you know. I really, truly admire and respect you and how you take on whatever life throws at you.

You know we're here for you to vent at any time. Now enjoy your blowing-off-steam weekend! That's an order!

::hugs again because I've nothing sensible to say::
May. 24th, 2005 12:10 pm (UTC)
I'll take hugs anytime, anywhere.

*kisses your cheek for good measure*
(Deleted comment)
May. 24th, 2005 12:12 pm (UTC)
Oh, boy. If I knew your brother 15 years ago, I could have gotten him to quit. One hour with my grandfather (my bio-mother's adoptive father) was all it took. THREE quadruple bypass surgeries, treacheotomy (which he smoked through) and removal of his genetalia, due to smoking-related gangrene.

Why don't you pass that along?
*loves you SO MUCH!*
*abrazos y besas* (I hope that's right...)
May. 24th, 2005 11:15 am (UTC)
::big hugs::

Oh, sweetie. I don't know what to say, how to honor your bravery and how to even begin to acknowledge the stress you must be feeling. Plus I'm at work and this has to be really hasty, too hasty to do the subject matter justice.

But: thank you for writing it. It's tough stuff, but you wrote about it beautifully and humanely and best of all you made a PSA! I quit smoking a good long while ago and there's not a day that I'm not glad.

May. 24th, 2005 12:13 pm (UTC)
*high fives you for your temerity and strength of character to quit*

I've heard that talking about stress takes away some of it... Thought I'd give it a try. ;-D

May. 24th, 2005 11:19 am (UTC)
*flying tackle bearhug*
May. 24th, 2005 12:13 pm (UTC)
May. 24th, 2005 11:21 am (UTC)
I hope your mom has a full and quick recovery so you can go back to being not-THAT-responsible very soon. Sheeesh at that kind of stress. And yay for Stoney-Wars! That'll cure what ails you for sure!
May. 24th, 2005 12:14 pm (UTC)
Seriously. No more being a grown-up, mm'kay?

STONEYWARS!! Oh, if only you were here, we'd be complete. SOOOOO looking forward to fun and movies.
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Are You Actually

Reading this? I'm just curious. Because that's really detail-oriented of you. Feel free to stop reading. But you can see that there's more here, so are you going to keep reading? Really? That's pretty dedicated. I'm impressed. No, really. I'm not being sarcastic, why do you get like that? See, this is the problem I have with your mother - yes. YES. I'm going there. It's time we put all of our cards on the table.

I love you, why are you doing this? After all we've been through? You don't have to be like this. You know, still reading. You could be baking a pie. And then sharing it with me.

Time Wot It Is

April 2017
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